by Madeline Laughs
There is no better place to observe the native’s mating habits than in your local watering hole, the Bar. I have learned more about the resiliency, the forgiveness and the deepest levels of denial of the human condition in a bar, than I have learned anywhere else.
Her: Did you hear about Terry and John?
Me: No, what about them?
Her: Well, they’re seeing each other now.
Me: I thought John was married.
Her: He is.
Me: Does his wife know he’s seeing Terry?
Her: I think she does. She’s kind of mad about it.
Me: No shit. She’s just mad. I’d be pulling some hair and doing some biting if I were her.
Her: Yeah, I think she said something to Terry about it.
Me: Just to Terry? Why not jerk a knot in John? He’s her husband.
Her: I think she’s had words with him too. The other night they were all in here together and I thought there was going to be a bar fight.
Me: They all were in the bar at the same time?
Her: Yeah, it was intense.
Me: Wow, just think if Anna had been in here too. That would have been the perfect storm!
Me: Oh yeah. John was seeing her behind his wife’s back last year.
Her: You’re kidding! But Anna’s her best friend!
Me: I know! She’s her best friend now, but last year they hated each other. Because of John.
Now after reading that exchange you might think that John is a first class jerk, but for arguments sake; shouldn’t his wife eventually wake up and smell the coffee? I’m going to cry foul here because as long as she tolerates his philandering behavior, he’s going to continue doing as he pleases.
I have been observing this one couple for years now. They are both gorgeous. Perfect hair, blue eyes, nice physiques and they start every evening so much in love, gentle with each other, kind and cuddly. But after a few beers the yelling starts. It can start when they are across the bar from each other and end with the spit flying across a span of inches as they actually get in each others face. Then she waltzes her tiny, tight butt around the room loudly offering French kisses to any of the men present, just to royally piss him off.
That’s usually when the bartender calls them a cab and makes them leave.
I have always wondered if the argument continued at home, though I doubt that it does. I think this has to be some kind of foreplay for them because they’ve stayed together for ions.
Beer goggles are kind of interesting to see too. Those are goggles that mysteriously appear on one’s face after the beer has removed your level of decency, discretion and judgment.
“Hey there cutiepie. Buy me a beer and I’ll take you out back and rock your world.” Sounds nice, huh? Well imagine a young lady, dressed to the nines, cleavage for days, not a wrinkle in sight, precariously perched on a bar stool next to the 70 year old, retired war veteran, walking with a cane and drinking root beer. I stayed close to the phone in case we had to call an ambulance after his cardiac arrest.
You can have sex with the guy you like that evening in the bathroom if you can both sneak in there without being caught. When you’re slightly toasted, being sneaky is easier said, than done. But later, as he is loudly confessing his undying love to you in front of the whole bar, you can smack him upside his head with your pocketbook and everyone will applaud and hoot with abandon.
You can scream that “Somebody needs to play some Beyonce on the jukebox!!” and once the song starts you can egg the carpenter into pole dancing using one of the pool cues. Or you can dance and pull your shirt up during the chorus “Allllll the shin-gall laaaaa-deees!!”
I truly love to see this one guy walk through the front door. When he laughs, the whole bar laughs. And you can’t understand a word he says, even when he’s sober. He loves every woman there. After a few beers he will saunter over to the jukebox and load it with every country love song on there. A longing look over his shoulder to catch the eye of some lady that might be watching him and he turns back to the jukebox, places a hand on each corner, leans in with his head down as the music starts and then the serenading begins.
He will stand there hanging onto the front of that jukebox and wail out every note, throwing his head back and squeezing his eyes shut during the heavy duty parts for emphasis. He’s totally into it. Now you recall that I pointed out in the beginning of this story that you can’t understand a word he says, even when he’s sober, right?Imagine this with music.
You can always tell when a couple brings their domestic dispute to the bar with them that night. First, one of them will show up without the other and proceed to get hammered. Then they tell everyone within earshot that their lover is an asshole and why.
Then the other one will show up, walk through the door and make a show of not noticing that their lover is already sitting at the bar. Of course, I imagine that a few passes of the parking lot already occurred in order to spot the lover’s car.Walking stiff-backed all the way to the other side of the bar, they clear a path. Everyone there already knows there’s a spat going on and they can’t wait to see what happens next.
Sitting on the opposite side of the bar, but making sure they are within direct eye contact of their lover, they order their first beer. Drunk Lover has already been telling their side of the story, which I have found always has great big holes and misinformation in it. After beer #2, Late Lover starts telling their side of the story. Bigger holes, more misinformation.
And then the loud-talking ensues. Though not to each other. The illusion that they haven’t seen each other sitting at the bar is still being enforced.
Him: SHE BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH!
Her: WELL HE BLAH, BLAH, BLAH!!
Folks are slowly getting up and moving discreetly away from them, except the ones that Drunk Lover and Late Lover have physically latched on to by grabbing their arms. Without an unbiased listener, there will be no need to continue with the loud-talking, so someone has to stay and pretend to care.
Within the span of an hour they will have pissed off everyone in the bar, however you’ll now find them in a corner some where inside making out like teenagers.
The life of a barkeep has to be one littered with stories just like these. They are hysterically funny and sometimes tragically uncensored. They remove life’s inhibitions and allow the prospect of irony, the unreality and the impossibility to all become somehow okay while you’re there. Nothing is off-limits. Nothing is inappropriate. Rules no longer apply. Anything goes.
One of my favorite stories is one about when my mother in law first bought the bar she has been tending for over 20 years now. She is an exotically beautiful Greek native that is one of the best bartenders around. Everyone loves her.
I was worried about her being there running things by herself and leaving at night, so I bought her a key-chain canister of pepper spray to carry with her. Two months passed and she came to me and told me she needed another canister.
Me: Why do you need another one?
Her: Because this one is no good anymore.
Me: Oh no, it’s still good. They don’t expire that quickly. This one should still be okay for another year or two.
Her: No, you misunderstand me. This one is empty. I need a new one.
Me: Empty? How do you know it’s empty? Did it leak out?
Her: No! You misunderstand! I used it all!
Me: You used it!! On what?!
Her: People piss me off and I spray them.
So I spent some time that afternoon explaining to her that she couldn’t just spray people with pepper spray because they made her mad. I’m sure a few of the bigger fellas, that are regular customers and notorious smarty pants, were very thankful I did. One of those poor guys had been sprayed at least a dozen times by then.
She still carries her pepper spray though and while she’s definitely not afraid to fire that puppy up, she is more careful about who she’s pointing it at now.
The next time you’re in your local pub, take a look around. There is a vibrancy there, a tingle of excitement and something akin to love. Immerse yourself in the atmosphere that dares to look into the face of loneliness and laugh at it. Embrace your inner wild child and cut loose. It’s all going to be okay. Tomorrow will be another day and no one there will remember what you did, or what you said, but they will remember that you showed up for the party and you were fun.
And remember to tip your bartender 🙂 she’s packin’.
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